Thursday, August 28, 2008

A fascinating new passtime

I've spent most of my spare time over the last few weeks hoofing around London trying to walk off a few pounds - ten or more miles at a time

This can get a little boring at times and I've been casting around for something to spice up my walks.

Photography is always a good stand-by but the weather, and the lighting, has been pretty rubbish of late

And then, the little GPS unit I use to mark out my routes and record my walks inspired me to think about participating in the vibrant geocaching community

Geocaching involves hiding waterproof containers containing a logbook and treasure (i.e. some plastic crap), the location of which you post on the web, for other people who are into that sort of thing to find with the aid of GPS

When you find a cache you leave an entry in the logbook, maybe take a picture, and swap some crap you brought with you for some of the crap in the box

For obvious reasons, geocachers have to be careful when searching for caches and ensure that members of the general public don't see the caches and trash them

For equally obvious reasons, a moment's thought will suggest that geocaching has the potential to get you into all sorts of interesting situations and zany adventures; involving as it does -

  • lurking around and behaving furtively in parks and other public places
  • hiding tupperware boxes in those parks and public places
  • walking around town with a backpack, a camera and a handheld GPS
  • having the lamest of excuses for what you are doing when challenged by members of the public or the security forces

The emphasis on the tupperware boxes is, in particular, a stroke of genius

An interesting side-effect of of geocaching is that maps of cache locations offer an interesting insight as to where cachers feel comfortable enough to hide sealed tupperware boxes without running the risk of being shot. The maps are, in effect, a rough indicator of 'security' hot and cold spots

Central London's extensive network of caches thins out considerably near places like Buckingham Palace, Parliament Square, Waterloo Station and Canary Wharf but I can't help noticing that there's a heap of caches in and around The City proper

Someone should be told



The Antagonist said...

The moment the parallel themes of Tupperware and hiding things appeared, I just knew the Delta 6250 would be making a special appearance.

It's come to something when any old tat found under a bush can be lauded as the greatest threat that humanity has ever seen.

Still, Daily Mail readers are calling for revolution while the fabled 'left' continues to contemplate its collective navel.

Class war, anyone?

Stef said...

*Geocaching Fun Fax*

'Geo-caching' was originally known as 'Geo-stashing' but the term was dropped early on because it sounded like participants were hiding and searching for drugs

and what better camera to choose to record your stashing exploits than the amusingly named Olympus E-420

Stef said...

...if you take the battery out there's loads of room inside

The Uberdoug said...

Given that you were walking adjacent to the Picc line trainsheds, you could use the excuse that you were trainspotting (through the dense trees). The GPS was to guide you to the best viewing position.

Did you see any trashed 1983 tube stock in the Cockfosters station southern stabling roads? A geocache location under one of the carriage seats covering a brake pipe/valve assembly would be ideal.

A moving geocache with a working train would be more of a challenge - you can also tell if the cache has been blown given that LU use cable ties to tamper-mark the state of the underseat boxes. The real fun is disguising yourself for the CCCPTV.

Is the weightloss regime to permit you to fly your own microlight out of the country?

Stef said...



Stef said...

Love the idea of a moving geocache by the way

Am also toying with creating a Geocache del Muerte, like something out of an Indiana Jones film with punji sticks and killer pendulums, that sort of thing

Neil said...

Boring question: What GPS gadget do you use?

Anonymous said...

"Boring question: What GPS gadget do you use?"

Cue - Paul Virilio ...

"Thus, for the US, GPS are a form of sovereignty! It is hardly surprising, then, that the EU has proposed its own GPS in order to be able to localise and to compete with the American GPS. As I have said before, sovereignty no longer resides in the territory itself, but in the control of the territory. And localisation is an inherent part of that territorial control. As I pointed out in The Art of the Motor and elsewhere, from now on we need two watches: a wristwatch to tell us what time it is and a GPS watch to tell us what space it is!"

Other pertinent quote (author forgotten): 'a GPS is similar to a calculator in that the more you use a calculator the less able you are to add up.'

Stef said...

"Boring question: What GPS gadget do you use?"

This puppy

Very good for walking, x-country stuff, rubbish for use in a car

It also needs loading up with Garmin's maps (which can be ridiculously overpriced or ridiculously underpriced depending on your supplier) to be useful

Stef said...

'a GPS is similar to a calculator in that the more you use a calculator the less able you are to add up.'

anyone who relies solely on a gps, or a calculator, without having the sense to be able to apply a sense test richly deserves every fuck up they get themselves into

Stef said...

e.g. 1

e.g. 2

Anonymous said...

"anyone who relies solely on a gps,"

Remember the British Navy in disputed waters off the coast of Iran? What were they relying on?


Stef said...

in fairness to Garmin's excellent handheld GPS units (as used off the shelf from Millets by HM's armed forces) I understand that GPS did an excellent job of telling our brave boys and girl that they actually were sailing in and illegally threatening shipping in Iranian waters within an accuracy of a couple of metres

The maps they were issued with were considerably less accurate

It's quality leadership like that, combined with the certain knowledge that they are risking their lives in pursuit of the most undeniably noblest of causes, which go a long way to explaining this headline from last Sunday...

Record numbers of ex-soldiers in UK jails as combat trauma blamed

The number of soldiers who end up in prison for violent offences has increased dramatically in the past four years, according to a report that has raised concerns about the mental health of military personnel returning from war zones. Compiled by probation officers, the report estimates that at least 8,500 former soldiers are in custody - 9 per cent of the UK prison population and nearly double the estimate of a previous study by the Home Office in 2004, which put the figure at 5 per cent.

But even the estimate by Napo, the probation trade union, may be on the low side. In a sign that the Ministry of Defence is increasingly aware of the problem, it recently carried out its own assessment in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and ex-services charities. A pilot study at Dartmoor prison concluded that almost 17 per cent of inmates had been members of the armed forces...